China: PIWCC writes to Xi Jinping on recent ‘wave of arrests’

Xu Xiao, left, with the writer Zheng Shiping,  who uses the pen name Yefu, at a lecture in September 2012.  Credit:  ChinaFotoPress

Chair: Ekbal Baraka
Egypt Pen
twitter: @ekbal_ba
Human Rights: Lucina Kathmann
December 17, 2014

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council, Beijing
100032 P.R. China

Your Excellency,

The PEN International Women Writers Committee, a standing committee of PEN International, the largest worldwide association of writers, is concerned about a wave of arrests of our Chinese writer colleagues. Our Committee is particularly concerned with the cases of Xu Xiao, Kuo Yanding and Zhang Miao, all detained in October and November of this year.

The continuation of this wave of arrests is the motive for our second letter this month. We are very concerned for these women colleagues and also the men colleagues who have been arrested in the same wave, such as Xue Ye, Liu Jianshu, Chen Kun, He Zhengjun, Guo Yushan and Huang Kaiping, all either writers or in related fields, such as publishers or booksellers.

We beg you to intervene to put a stop to this wave of arrests, so prejudicial to an environment of freedom of expression. These people are not violent; they are being targeted for their support for protests and other expressions of their peaceably-held opinions, which should be their right. We beg for the release of them all.

Lucina Kathmann
International Vice-president

Iran: Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh arrested

Nasrin Sotoudeh. Courtesy: PEN International.

Update: Nasrin Sotoudeh was released several hours after her arrest. 

The arrest of Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh on Human Rights day shows the continuing complete disregard of the Iranian authorities for freedom of expression, PEN International said today.

‘News of the re-arrest of Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was reportedly planning to attend a Human Rights Day gathering, is deeply disturbing,’ said Carles Torner, PEN International’s Executive Director.

‘We call on the Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally, and to lift the ban on her practising her profession so that she can return to her important activities defending the rights of others.’

Nasrin Sotoudeh was unexpectedly released in September 2013 after serving three years of a six year prison sentence.  However, the Iranian Bar Association suspended her license to practice for three years, which she has been campaigning to have lifted, including by staging daily demonstrations outside the Bar Association’s offices.  She was briefly arrested on 25 October 2014 after one of the demonstrations. Sotoudeh is an Honorary Member of PEN American Center.

Sotoudeh’s husband Reza Khandan was also reportedly arrested today, but was released later.

– Via PEN International

Event: She Must Be Seeing Things (International Women’s Day)

An event that examines what happens when women use cameras to cast new eyes on the cultures around them.

Organised by the Melbourne Centre of International PEN to mark 2011’s International Women’s Day. Featuring Deb Verhoeven (Associate Professor, Screen Studies, RMIT University, and Honorary Life Member, Women in Film and Television); includes film and video clips and Q & A.